One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how I meet minimum spend after opening a new credit card. The goal is to turn your current spending behavior into a viable means to meet the minimum spend.
If you just received the new Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express Platinum card, you’ll need to spend at least $4,000 within three months to get the sign-up bonus. Instead of increasing your spending or splurging to meet the minimum spends, here are seven alternatives.
1. Make It Your Primary Card
I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but if I open a card, I make it my primary card until I hit minimum spend. Whenever I go out to eat, my friends are often puzzled if I don’t use my Chase Sapphire Reserve — especially since I was probably the person who convinced them to get it. “Does the Hyatt get you more value than the Reserve’s 3x UR (3% cash back, 4.5% through the travel portal, or 6% through transfer partners)? Yes and no.
With the Chase Hyatt card, the signup bonus is two nights at ANY of their hotels (feel free to pick their most expensive properties). My target is to use it at a property that would typically cost $750/night. This means that the signup bonus is worth $1,500. To get the bonus, I need to hit the minimum spend — $2,000 in the first three months — making my “return on spending” closer to 75% ($1,500 value for $2,000 spend) compared to the 6% from the Reserve.
I do have exceptions to this rule though. If I’m working on a card that has a low minimum spend — like $500 or $1,000 — I might keep using my Reserve at restaurants since I know with high confidence that I’ll be able to meet the spend.
The other exception is for purchase of things where I value the extended warranty. That $2,000 camera will DEFINITELY help me towards minimum spend, but if the card doesn’t have extended warranty, I rather put it on the “right” card to maximize my future protection.
2. The Venmarytr
“Oh Sebby, you’re so nice to volunteer and put your card down!” Despite hearing this, my brain jumps to how much closer I am to finishing my minimum spend. Mic wrote an article about this awhile back (The Friend Who Always Pays for Dinner Is Playing You for Credit Card Points) about people who offer to pay to maximize their credit card rewards. I try to be that guy.
Chances are, your friend group has one. The person who offers their card and to just Venmo them the amount. The main issue is making sure people pay you on the spot — the last thing you want is to have to chase people down for money.
April 15th is approaching quickly. If you owe money to the IRS, you can pay your taxes with a credit card. The IRS has an agreement in place with three payment processors to accept different types of payments using debit and credit cards.
Each payment processor has charges a service fee ranging from 1.87% to 2% when you pay with a credit card. Here’s a link to the IRS page with information on fees.
You can use a credit card when you e-file and choose the e-pay option.
4. Health Insurance
If you have to pay for your own health insurance, you can use a credit card to pay the monthly bill to meet the minimum spend. My monthly health insurance payments are $400/month, so 3 months = $1,200 in spend.
5. Student Loans
Depending on who your student loan provider is, you might be able to pay your students loans with a credit card.
I would only recommend this if you have the cash on hand to pay off the loan; if you’re hitting minimum spend but now have a 19% loan with the bank, you’re doing it wrong.
Rent is usually the most significant expense I have every month. If you don’t want to force yourself to spend more money, this is a great way to meet a considerable chunk of minimum spend.
Some newer buildings let you pay rent via an online portal with a credit card. If you’re like me and still pay rent the old fashioned way via cash/check to a landlord, we have a solution for you!
Plastiq allows you to make rent payments using a credit card, and they’ll send your landlord a check. They charge a 2–3% fee, so do the math to see if Plastiq makes sense for you.
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7. Last Resort: Gift Cards
If you’re in a pinch to reach minimum spend, then gift cards are a good option. A few good ideas to buy gift cards to are grocery stores, restaurants you frequent often, or services.
Only buy amounts you know you’ll use, like $200 to Trader Joe’s. Who knows? Maybe you won’t shop at Trader Joe’s if another grocery store opens.
Use gift cards for perishable things and not electronics. Gift cards don’t offer extended warranty or purchase protection.
Another reason I hesitate to recommend gift cards for minimum spend is that they’re my go-to move for quarter bonuses (with cards like the Discover It and Chase Freedom).
Bonus Tip: Track Important Dates
One tricky thing that credit card companies do is they start the minimum spend clock when your application is approved. That means if you receive your card two weeks later, your clock started two weeks ago.
Use what works for you to set reminders to meet the minimum spend. I usually set a reminder one month out, and a few others each week so I don’t miss the deadline.
- 03/11/17: ![Applied+Approved for Chase Hyatt]
- 03/11/17: ![Chase Hyatt min spend $2k — 90 days left]
- 04/10/17: ![Chase Hyatt min spend $2k — 60 days left]
- 05/10/17: ![Chase Hyatt min spend $2k — 30 days left]
- 06/03/17: ![Chase Hyatt min spend 2k — 5 days left]
- 06/08/17: ![Chase Hyatt min spend 2k — LAST DAY]
- 06/09/17: ![Chase Hyatt min spend 2k — DEADLINE]
I use ! and  in my Google Calendar since I have a lot of (random) items on my calendar and those symbols force it to the top of the list for each of the days.
You obviously don’t have to be as obsessive. Find a method that works for you :)